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Du Châtelet Prize

The Du Châtelet Prize in Philosophy of Physics celebrates excellence in philosophy of physics and promotes breadth across the field both historically and philosophically.

The Du Châtelet Prize in Philosophy of Physics is supported by Duke University in collaboration with Studies in History and Philosophy of Science.

2022 Winner Announced

The winner of the 2022 Du Châtelet Prize in Philosophy of Physics is

Ovidiu Babeș

for his paper

“Mixed Mathematics and Metaphysical Physics:

Descartes and the Mechanics of the Flow of Water” 


Ovidiu’s paper investigates the complex interplay between physics and mechanics in Descartes’ quantitative explanation of the flow of water, showing the creativity in Descartes’s attempts to bridge the mechanical and the physical, and the difficulties that ensue for his natural philosophy.


Ovidiu is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the Vrije University Brussels, working on a project about Isaac Newton's reception in the 18th century. He defended his PhD in 2022 at the University of Bucharest with a dissertation on Descartes and mixed mathematics. More generally, his research deals with early modern philosophy and science.



Measurement practices in the physical sciences: correlation, calibration and stabilization


Jamee Elder, “On the ‘direct detection’ of gravitational waves"

Miguel Ohnesorge, “Pluralising measurement”


Alisa Bokulich, Hasok Chang, Daniel Mitchell, and Wendy Parker

2022 Call for Papers

Descartes's Metaphysical Physics


The topic of "Descartes’s metaphysical physics" encompasses everything from the details of his physics to issues in the epistemology, methodology, or metaphysics of his physics. Authors are encouraged to consider themes arising in Dan Garber’s 1992 Descartes’s Metaphysical Physics, or in the literature on Descartes’s physics that has developed since. The scope of the prize includes the reception of Descartes’s physics, and we welcome submissions that incorporate previously under-studied figures who engaged with Descartes’s physics during its reception in ensuing centuries.

Committee: Roger Ariew, Dan Garber, Dana Jalobeanu, Alison Peterman, Sophie Roux


Mathematics as a tool of conceptual innovation in physical theory and/or experiment, 1780-1890


Joshua Eisenthal, "Hertz's Mechanics and a unitary notion of force”


Janet Folina, Doreen Fraser, Lydia Patton and Sheldon Smith



How matter acts on matter: unsolved problems in the philosophy of physics, 1700-1760


Adwait Parker, “Newton on Active and Passive Quantities of Matter”


Katherine Brading, Mary Domski, Andrew Janiak, Chris Smeenk, and George Smith

"Physics is an immense building that surpasses the powers of a single man. Some lay a stone there, while others build whole wings... still others survey the plan of the building, and I, among them."

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